Doerism: Buy Less, Do More.
We’re all consumers. I hate to admit it but I’m a massive consumer (typed on my MacBook Air). I also know that when I have more cash in the bank, I act less ‘sustainably’. All of a sudden if I need something I can buy it, and I forget to ask myself ‘is this good for the environment?’, because the answer to the question ‘Can I afford it?’ is Yes! If you can afford to keep buying new things, and you’re bombarded with advertising telling you that you still need more, why would you stop consuming?
The consumer lifestyle is toxic. It is notoriously effective at harming the environment without giving any long term fulfilment to society at large (just look up the environmental Kuznets curve). In the UK, the average person requires 3.5 Planet Earths to support the lifestyle we live. Sadly, there aren’t 3.5 Planet Earths.
Money isn’t a measure of how happy you are either. It would be a lie to say that consumerism (and therefore capitalism) doesn’t have an economic benefit. But at some point society started to focus on the cash too much. Let’s not forget that it was Margaret Thatcher who said ‘Economics are the method: the object is to change the heart and soul’. Along with the hearts and souls of many, a culture was changed and money was its idol. Well done Margaret.
When we think of ourselves as being successful we often immediately think of how much we earn. Research shows that despite salary increase, our happiness doesn’t follow. Income and the stuff we own are the traditional consumer measures of success but, are you happiest doing over-time or fighting your way down Oxford Street? I’ll admit I enjoy the occasional shop but I’d much rather be out on my bike in the countryside.
Generally, people are happier when they are doing things that are, coincidentally, more sustainable: seeing friends, creating things, exercising and being outdoors. All of these things contribute to our long term happiness – our sustainable happiness. So that’s why I’m encouraging everyone to be doers rather than consumers.
Here’s my Doerism alternatives (please let me know if you have some too!):
Do: Organise a Swap-Shop (or Swish as they’re sometimes called) with your friends
Don’t: Buy brand new clothes all the time (I admit there are somethings you do what to be brand new though)
Do: Join your local GoodGym, get out, help out and meet people. That’s not good, that’s great.
Don’t: Get sucked into an expensive gym membership & associated expensively branded clothing
Do: Use my favourite website Street Bank and share with your neighbours
Don’t: Immediately rush to the shop when you only need something (a drill, varnish, garden tools etc.) for an odd job
Do: Get people to support you through Do Nation, pledging to DO things to benefit others (there’s only so many half marathons one can really sponsor on my salary).
Don’t: Constrain yourself to only ‘raising money’ for charities when challenging yourself
Do: Find your local soup event! Meet people, hear about fantastic projects going on in your area, eat soup, vote for your favourite one. They’re great.
Don’t: Have an expensive evening out at a wasteful restaurant
Do: Volunteer with a local group, try ProjectDirt.
Don’t: Sit on your laptop every night watching Netflix (who know’s what the environmental impact of all our streaming?)